Ceramics Monthly: As individual artists, how do you (James Klein and David Reid) approach collaboration when designing and making finished pieces for the studio (KleinReid) that you started and run together in New York City?
James Klein and David Reid: We have always worked independently so when we began KleinReid in the early 1990s, our first collections were a way of learning to collaborate. We set up our Brooklyn studio to exist in a space between art, design, and craft—what you’d call the maker movement today. That allowed us to follow ideas and create as we pleased.
All of our porcelain work is made in-house and our capacity is limited, so we have to be intrigued by an idea. It has to have legs because once it goes into production we’re going to be looking at it for a while. We also routinely create one-off pieces to work through ideas and designs more quickly. Each of us has our strengths in the process and we’ve learned trust those.
CM: How do you come to an agreement on design decisions for the KleinReid collections? Has this changed at all over the course of the more than 20 years that you have worked together?
KR: Our work is primarily about refined form, so everything starts there. We have sketchbooks full of ideas; choosing a new collection is seeing which idea seems most urgent or ripe. We each bring ideas to the table knowing things will marinate and mutate and the resulting hybrid will be stronger for it.
New collections are culled from current obsessions and a multitude of historic and cultural references. We aim to create something new but with the comfort of familiarity and history; something that could only exist now as a result of sincere love for what has passed. That said, sometimes a good, complete idea falls out of one of our brains and we’ve learned not to mess with it.
CM: What are you working on right now?
KR: We have two new collections this year—Nimbus (shown below) and Mihara—and we’ve been adding new shapes to those. We’re also working on glaze development and new prints. We regularly consult with other companies and are working on several design jobs including new lighting collections for our long-time client Room & Board. These will be introduced shortly. Lastly, we have our own side projects, home renovations, and work in our garden to keep things balanced.